Game Chef 2011 – Second Review

From someone awesome called Jeff R.

 

Let me start out by saying that I really enjoyed reading this game. The setting is evocatively problematic, the mechanics perform a clever trick of turning something that’s usually a mechanical flaw (death-spirals) into the central dramatic engine of the game, and the text itself is positively dripping with the theme. (I particularly enjoyed the Winter’s Tale gag.)

In fact, there’s very little that I would want to change in it. The one possible exception is the tone and language: writing a futuristic, sci-fi game in archaic English is a bit dissonant, and if you’re only doing that to provide camouflage for the numerous direct quotes of and allusions to Shakespeare, I’m not sure that it’s worth it. Where I have quibbles here are almost entirely not a matter of disliking what was written, but rather wanting a bit more.

As I see it, there are two fairly large holes in the explanation of the setting; big questions that I would want answered as a player or need to decide and work out as a GM, and even if they are things that should be left to GM discretion that fact itself, and some of the implications, should probably be mentioned. The smaller of these issues is that of monogamy, and whether it is part of the Daughters’ definition of ‘love’ or even ‘marriage’. Is it possible for the men in this setting to gather harems? If so, would this be desirable or a possible dark fate for them? (If trustable men are such vanishing resource in the world and it is possible to share one, after all..)

The larger hole, though, is more difficult to work out. Is a Daughter capable of bearing a child? They are certainly manufactured things themselves, but made with biotech of unspecified sophistication, and it certainly goes without saying that ‘Bear a child’ is certainly a talent that a dutiful wife would possess, but there is no mention anywhere of the Grandsons or Granddaughters, and I get the impression that the situations are old enough for them to be around. (Its also possible that in this setting everyone who leaves Earth Orbit is permanently sterilized by radiation or something, although if you’ve got the biotech to create artificial people you could probably get around this.)

One more very small suggestion/unclarity: the initial text mentions having rebelled against an unhappy marriage as a possible Daughter background, but the rules give no guidelines for dealing with this special case.

As I said, I find this setting very interesting and that there are a lot of possible stories to tell with it. I would want either answers or at least advice, if these areas are meant to be canonically uncertain, before starting a session.

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3 thoughts on “Game Chef 2011 – Second Review

  1. Finally, after years of making warhammer puns, somebody appreciates one of mine.

    I don’t think a Daughter would tolerate polygamy or harems. That would not fit their definition of marriage. Indeed, I think perhaps that there may even be a kind of advantage for the Daughters here that should their husband break their heart by choosing another, they would be free of his control (but of course still love him dearly). I’ll have to think about that. It actually doesn’t happen that much in Shakespeare. And of course, pregnancy NEVER happens. Being true to genre, I never even considered it. I think probably Daughters cannot get pregnant; in Shakespeare, there are many wives but almost no mothers. Even parents like Lady Capulet and Lady Montague are written as wives, with nurses left to be matronly.

    And again, I need to think about how to break a marriage, rules-wise. Death is what I meant in the section Jeff mentions (ie another Daughter kills him for you) but I should be explicit and cover other options.

  2. Let’s examine the builder’s point of view

    Duke Millan builds what his customers want; and if they are rich enough to buy two Daughters or more, he just sells them in quantity.
    However, he may have trouble reprogramming what was meant to be unique (and why would someone want two perfect wives, when he has already one?); so the Daughters may accept the situation, but not be happy. So much for harems.
    Polygamy his another issue. in a meta game situation, I find it desirable.

    You see, RPG is about having more players than one with the GM. So there’s one player roleplaying a Daughter having issues with her husband, and the other players have secondary roles and don’t feel affected. Polygamy could be a solution for a collective “win” for all players. You might rule that the Daughters do not get Violations if the husband chooses another Daughter. Duke Millan cared for that, so that his customers would buy newer models without fearing they might be killed by a jealous old model. 🙂
    On the contrary, if the husband chooses a woman (not a Daughter) or has a mistress – say, because he’s bored of perfection – the Daughter does not tolerate that.

    And of course, Daughters are not programmed to get pregnant. Duke Millan does not want to give free “models” to his customers, or create competition if a patron starts his own stock breeding! (though we have a scenario plot here : a customer unlocks the programming and start breeding. The Daughters have to free their counterparts. Meanwhile, Duke Millan sends his Sons to destroy the Chicken Farm. And the Farm is too outbound, so Duke Millan must ally with some rebel Daughters…)

    Consistent with what I wrote before about the displeasure of dying without issue, plus the rebel Daughters would want to give a child to their Lover, I assume the setting allows them to overcome the sterile programing. Cost : one Violation to hack the program, (good wifes do not mingle with genetic engineering) plus one for each pregnancy caused, plus one for the pregnant Daughter (so the engineer-e gets Violations for provoking pregnancies too).

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